Tuesday, November 09, 2010

November 9, 2010: To Stress or Not to Stress?

From the DVD Food Matters I've learned that when under stress from job, kids, running a home, or other sources, the human body breaks down Vitamin C as it's making adrenaline to combat the stress. This is why chronic stress is related to heart attacks. The body is making adrenaline and drawing down levels of Vitamin C which causes vulnerability to our cardiovascular and immunity systems and more. Vitamin C is a tool the body uses to maintain, repair, and restore our health.

It's cold and flu season here in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in rainy Western Oregon. I'm taking this Food Matters information very seriously and have passed it on to my family. While I've always known stress to be a patient and quiet killer, I didn't know the specifics. Now I do. A certain amount of stress is normal. Our bodies have their routines, they take care of business in good order.

But when we, in this fast-paced, high-expectations world, run non-stop without evaluation or relaxation, we become the means by which nasty diseases are formed. We do this to ourselves. Over time. Granted not all illnesses and diseases are self-inflicted. But too many are.

The way to win against the diseases of civilization - and winter - is by not playing the high-stress, harm-yourself game. It requires education followed by a lifestyle change. One must take responsibility for oneself. Easier said than done. Baby-step by baby-step a lifestyle can be permanently altered.

Besides mindful ingesting of foods and supplements, I am focusing on staying calm in the face of actual or assumed hostility and at the same time incorporating relaxation into my days. I realize that taking time for meditation, for reading inspirational texts, for stretching, exercising, and planning my time is not selfish or wasteful. In the practice of this, I find I am not only helping myself but the entire atmosphere of our home. My state of being has a direct effect on those around me, just as their moods effect me. When my family members are peaceful it helps me relax and function at optimal levels. And vice versa.

However, remaining calm while trapped in a state of attack - whether real or imagined - is difficult for me. Normally, I verbally stand my ground, my body rushes into fight mode. I can feel the physical change. Irritation manifests itself on my face, in my heartbeat, my fists clench, breathing quickens. It's not a good feeling. And I stay there seeking justice far too long. Usually it's wasted energy. Understanding that in order to sustain this negative state I'm flooding toxins into my blood-stream while depleting health-giving chemicals, it's easier to think myself calm again, to make the space to evaluate, to problem-solve, and then to let go. Most of these battles are not worth compromising my immunity and my overall health. And this anger/stress certainly isn't worth compromising the well-being of my family. It's a struggle, though. I forget what I know until after the damage is done. Thus the current determined focus. I'm in training.

It's always been easier for me to care for others more than for myself. A shame, that, because in allowing myself to atrophy I have actually reduced my ability to help my loved ones. In allowing myself to react rather than calmly respond I hurt those I care about, too, for careless words, unmeasured, usually inflict pain. These days retrieving my vitality has become as much about helping others as myself.

The motivation is strong.

Endurance is required. For this I pray.


Unknown said...

Interesting thoughts. Personally when I find myself 'trapped in a state of attack' as you eloquently put it, and this is more often than not over politics, letting that negative state take its natural course rather resisting it allows me to get whatever I'm getting worked up about off my chest so I no longer have anything to be perplexed about. Through passionate debate I can find insight in what those I disagree with say, and whether I'm swayed or further entrenched I can add that insight to myself and become a more enlightened person.

And besides, anger/stress may be a struggle, but they add to the experience of life so you can fully appreciate the more pleasant aspects of it.

--The Social Thatcherist

Cherie said...

You make good points, S.T. Especially the last one.

Passionate debate is a fine thing, truly it is. Exhilarating at times and, properly undertaken, probably not damaging to health. Personally, I don't find political debating to be hostile. I participate frequently, but I stay calm. I listen calmly, make my points calmly. Or try to. I find I hear and understand my opponent's views better when I'm not hot under the collar determined to convince him/her of mine.

I stand by my perspective that to stop and measure my reactions is a better way. My words can be quite cruel at times. No amount of personal enlightenment, to me, is worth hurting another person.

Thanks for the dialogue! Now, to your blog I go.

cecily said...

I remember reading about stress and its effect on the body as part of my counselling studies - woah, huge. I think the Vitamin C thing is the tip of the iceberg! Like you, I need to do more to manage it, and take time out. I'm not good at that at all.

Cherie said...

I heartily agree, Cecily, that Vitamin C is the tip of the iceberg. So many factors determine the degree of stress each of us undergoes.

As far as management, it's definitely a process. Some periods of time are easier than others, some are grueling challenges. It's never as simple as wishing it so. Life has a way of creeping in and submarining us.